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Despite HC ban, Nirmal Singh’s family continues construction near Army depot: Officials

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Jammu, May 19: Construction of a building by senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh’s family near an Army depot in the city’s outskirts is near completion, despite the Jammu and Kashmir High Court directing them last year to maintain status quo at the disputed site, officials said.

The high court on May 7 last year had asked them to maintain status quo until final disposition of an Army plea which has claimed that the building was in violation of laid down norms.

A palatial building is nearing completion in Ban village despite the order, the officials said.

 

Raising security and safety concerns in view of the building’s proximity to an ammunition depot, the Centre had filed two petitions before the high court, but are still awaiting a proper hearing a year later.

Efforts to seek a reaction from Nirmal Singh and his close aide did not yield result as repeated calls and messages remained unanswered. Singh had earlier claimed it was a political conspiracy against him.

The piece of 2,000 square metre land was brought in 2000 by the Himgiri Infrastructure Development Private Limited, whose shareholders included former state deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta and BJP MP Jugal Kishore besides Singh. Gupta, however, had claimed that he resigned from the company.

The construction work on the plot had started in 2017 prompting the Army to send a communication to Singh, who was the then deputy chief minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government, asking him to stop the activity as it was in “violation of the Works of Defence Act (WoDA) 1903” which bars any construction activity upto 1000 yards (914 metres approx).

The construction activity falls nearly 581 yards (531 metres approx) from the boundary of the depot.

A contempt notice was moved by the central government in 2018 against Nirmal Singh’s wife Mamta Singh for allegedly violating a 2015 order of the then deputy commissioner of Jammu Simrandeep Singh in which the Army depot was notified by the state government.

The high court had on May 7, 2018, while hearing a contempt petition, asked various departments of the state to file their replies and directed Singh and others to “ensure” that the 2015 order is “strictly implemented with all provisions of law/rules and no unlawful/impermissible activity in the area is permitted”.

The 2015 order was clear that “no variation shall be made in the ground level and on building, wall, bank or other construction….Erected, added to or altered otherwise that with the written approval of the General officer in Commanding…”

“No wood, earth, stone, brick, gravel and or other material shall be stacked, stored or otherwise accumulated” and the order was applicable to all those living 1000 yards of the ammunition point at village ban.

It said that any violation “shall be dealt with by the local Army commander under law and no compensation in respect of removal of such unauthorised structures shall be payable to the owners.”

The Defence Ministry had filed a writ petition on May 3, 2018 when the local administration and police failed to implement the 2015 order.

Despite the high court’s order for strict implementation of the order of the deputy commissioner, the construction work continued unabated prompting the Centre to move a contempt petition on May 16, 2018.

Officials in the Defence Ministry said that in view of the recent terrorist action at Pulwama as well as the earlier terrorist attack at Nagrota in November 2016, concerns regarding security of such sensitive defence installations have always assumed importance.

Guidelines such as the Works of Defence Act are meant to deter such threats as well as cater for the safety of the civilians residing in the vicinity. However, such construction activity reduces the open area for surveillance and monitoring by the Army too.


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SHO injured in Anantnag attack succumbs at AIIMS

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Srinagar, Jun 16: The Station House Officer of the police station Sadr in Anantnag succumbed on Sunday, four days after he had received critical injuries in a militant attack in the town.

The slain officer Arshad Ahmad Khan was critically injured after militants attacked a joint party of CRPF and police at a bus stand in Anantnag on June 12.

In the attack, five paramilitary troopers and a militant were killed and four other security forces personnel including the Station House Officer were injured in the attack. Besides, a girl Snober (18) daughter of Ashraf Malik of Danter also sustained a bullet wound in her leg.

 

Khan according to reports was being operated in Srinagar’s SKIMS hospital. However, he was flown to Delhi’s AIIMS hospital on Sunday where he succumbed to injuries.

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Malik instrumental in bringing JRL together: NIA

Claims Aalam revealed ‘rift between separatists on funds’

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New Delhi, Jun 16: National Investigating Agency (NIA) Sunday said that the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik was instrumental in bringing the Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani and Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq together to spearhead the 2016 agitation in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Yasin Malik was instrumental in bringing together the disparate factions of Hurriyat and formed Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) which spear headed the 2016 agitation in Kashmir,” NIA said in a press statement.

It said that the JRL issued protest calendars leading to economic shutdown for over four months and also caused death/injuries to civilians and security forces in the valley.

 

“Yasin Malik admitted that the JRL and Hurriyat Conference Geelani Group collected funds from business community as well as certain other sources and ensured that economic shut down and violent protests continue to disrupt the daily life of common citizens in the valley,” the NIA said in the statement.

It said that Muslim League chairman Masarat Aalam Bhat revealed in the investigation that Pakistan based agents route funds through hawala operators which were transferred to the separatists including Syed Ali Geelani.

“Aalam said there are rifts in the Hurriyat regarding collection/use of funds,” it said.

The NIA said leader of Duktaran-e-Milat, Asiya Andrabi, was grilled by it about the educational expenses of her son in Malaysia incurred by Zahoor Watali, who was arrested in the alleged funding case.

“During interrogation, Asiya Andrabi admitted that she had been collecting funds and donations from foreign sources and Duktaran-e-Milat had been organising protests by Muslim women in the valley,” it claimed.

The NIA has already approached the relevant authorities for providing evidence relating to certain bank accounts used by Asiya Andrabi’s son Mohammad bin Qasim while he was in the university, it said.

Another separatist leader, Shabbir Shah, had to face some tough time when he was confronted about his businesses, including a hotel in Pahalgam which is allegedly funded through foreign funds received by him from Pakistan, the statement said.

“During the custodial interrogation, Shabir Shah was confronted with evidence relating to transfer of money by Pakistan-based agents and representatives of APHC (All Parties Hurriyat Conference) factions to parties affiliated to Hurriyat in J and K. He was also confronted about his investments in various hotels and businesses in Pahalgam, properties in Jammu, Srinagar and Anantnag,” the NIA said.

The NIA had registered a case in May, 2017 against belonging to Jammat ud Dawah, Duktaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and other separatist leaders in the state for raising, receiving and collecting funds to fuel separatist and terrorist activities and entering into a larger conspiracy for causing disruption in Kashmir Valley and for waging war against India.

The agency has so far charge-sheeted 13 accused, including leader of Jammat-ud Dawah Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, head of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin, seven separatist leaders, two hawala conduits and some stone-pelters.

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Have busted ‘Shuara-e-Zindan’ inside jails: Police

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Srinagar, Jun 16: The Jammu and Kashmir Police has busted ‘Shuara-e-Zindan’ (supreme council for jail), a term used by militants for governance inside prisons, and restored the prison manual completely, officials said here.

After the escape of Naveed Jatt, a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant, last February, the Jammu and Kashmir prison department under the leadership of Dilbagh Singh took a series of measures to “sanitise” prisons, including shifting all hardcore militants from the Srinagar Central Jail.

“A complete analysis of the prisoners was carried out and the message was loud and clear that the hold of terrorists inside the prison needs to be broken and rule of law needs to be implemented,” says Singh, who recently relinquished the post of Director General of Prisons, said.

 

However, he did not elaborate further on the measures carried out and said “we have only ensured that hardened militants and separatists are segregated from those who are first-timers and have a scope of improvement.”

However, the officials in the state prison department said after Singh took charge, raids and searches were carried out regularly and militants were shifted to other jails in Jammu and Udhampur.

Two cases were registered at Rainawari police station which includes the one where militants were operating “Shaura-e-Zindan” inside the jail which used to decide allotment of barracks and other amenities to the prisoners, the officials said.

The ‘Shaura-e-Zindan’ used to provide facilities to the prisoners based on their experience in the field of militancy, which includes food of their choice and other facilities, they said, adding Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, serving life sentence, was the supreme commander of this group.

Now, after the crackdown and repeated searches, all private kitchens operating inside the jail premises, have been shut and all inmates queue up to the common ‘langar’ where they are served food, they said.

There was a report in December 2017 that “sermons are given on Jehad…The basic tenets of religion are overlooked and emphasis is laid on radical aspects. Such religious sermons have a deep psychological impact on inmates and youths in particular who develop inclination towards joining militancy or getting recruited as overground workers (for militants).”

It said the jail, which is expected to act as a correctional facility, is “instead being used as a place of religious indoctrination and militant recruitment”.

“It is being observed that even petty criminal who spend some time in jails are today coming out as highly indoctrinated individuals with religious motivation to support or even join militant ranks,” it said. However, Singh ensured that there is a segregation of prisoners and people arrested for charges under terrorism or separatism are treated with higher degree of caution and separated from inmates arrested for petty crimes.

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